Gentbrugse Meersen, Gentbrugge

EvoltaProjectsGentbrugse Meersen, Gentbrugge
Public Space Team

Construction of a water-resistant sports park in a meander area

New sports cluster provides resident of Ghent with 9.4 more hectares of sporting fun

The Gentbrugse Meersen is one of Ghent’s five green poles. In order to further expand the recreational character of the park and nature area, our team was asked to develop a sports cluster at the edge. A sports park of some 9.4 hectares that includes a baseball field, softball field, cricket field, three football fields, a football field with panel boarding (in artificial turf), a shooting field, a street-workout zone, Finnish track and mountain bike course. Necessary peripheral infrastructure such as storage rooms, dugouts, batting cages and a proper scorer’s tower with shower rooms and locker rooms for the baseball and softball club were indispensable too.

Our Public Space team was in charge of the complete design, the technical studies and the supervision of the implementation works. In addition to the sports park, we laid out a green parking space in the area and designed several bicycle racks for visitors. We provided connections for electricity and Internet on the sports fields, sewerage, LED lighting in accordance with the requested lux values, drainage and irrigation systems … The result is a (sports) park structure with areas for intensive and extensive recreation in different degrees.

Despite the size of the project area (9.4 acres), this was a very challenging design brief. Indeed, about eight sports fields with very different shapes and sizes had to be structured in a logical way on the site. And greenery and water were also important factors, since the sports park was to be built in a lake area, which part of an old Scheldt meander also crossed through. In designing the sports park, our ambition was to preserve as much of the meander and existing forest structure as possible.

We raised the ground by about 1.50 m so that the grounds could be used all year round. To ensure optimum water management, we combined an extensive drainage network with an irrigation system on ground and buffer water. In doing so, we put some extra effort into water recovery through the sports fields’ drainage pipes. The drained sports fields were connected directly to collection drains that fill a central water buffer basin. In wetter periods, excess water is drained through a wadi and ditch system toward the northern nature area; in dry periods, the central buffer basin can be refilled using groundwater pumps. By implementing the central buffer basin into the park structure in an aesthetic and logical way, we are not only committing to sustainable water use (maximum recovery), but also increasing the experience and educational value of the area.

We also took water permeability and local water infiltration into account when choosing materials for paving and paths. The primary paths consist of cement concrete pavement for good accessibility for hikers and cyclists. The parking area at the entrance area was constructed with linear grass concrete tiles. And for the other paths – the secondary circulation – we used plastic grass tiles. This way, we were able not only to reduce the implementation cost, but also to preserve the natural character of the site.